Flights to Tartu
Tartu is Estonia’s second largest city and is considered by many to be the cultural heart of the country. Tartu is situated in central southern Estonia and features some beautiful architecture in its old town, along with parks and gardens, interesting museums, and a riverside setting.
The Tartu Airport (airport code: TAY) is fairly small and is just under 10 kilometres away from the city to the south-west. Flights to Tartu from South African are limited to a handful of major airlines, all offering 2-stop routes. Stopping in London and Talinn, you can take Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, or South African Airways. Your other option for a flight to Tartu is a route through Frankfurt and Talinn. This is offered by Lufthansa and British Midland.
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The Tourist Attractions of Tartu:
Tartu is a historical city that dates right back to the beginnings of a settlement here in the 5th century. By the 7th century a fortification had been built. Russians, Germans, Polish-Lithuanian and Swedes all ruled Tartu over the course of the next several hundred years, and Tartu gained its name and its independence following the First World War. There are historical buildings dating back hundreds of years to see here today, along with modern architecture, and those built during the Soviets occupation.
Tartu Old Town
Though large parts of Tartu were destroyed during the Second World War, the city does still have an old town with a number of attractive buildings standing. Town Hall Square is one of the major meeting points in Tartu, and as the name suggests the main building on the square is the Town Hall. It dates to 1789 and looks very grand with its columns and central clock tower. There are other smaller, and attractive buildings on the square too, as well as the symbol of Tartu, the ‘Kissing Students Fountain’ which celebrates student life in Tartu and the University of Tartu.
Called Supilinn in Estonian, and Soup Town in English, this is another historic neighbourhood of Tartu. Historically this was the slum area of the city, during the 19th century in particular. Today it is no longer the poorest part of Tartu but is in fact taking on a new presence, with redevelopment of the buildings into classy homes and apartments, while retaining the historic character. The old wooden houses are very charming after all and it would be a shame to lose this character. Look out for the street names which are all named after soup ingredients!
Churches in Tartu
Tartu has a number of churches but if you visit only one make it St John’s Church (Jaani Kirik). It dates from the 14th century and is famous for the thousands of terracotta figures dating from medieval times.
You might also want to visit the ruins of the cathedral. The cathedral was built in the 13th century on top of Dome Hill. The elevated position gives some good views from here anyway, plus you can enjoy the viewing platforms on the reconstructed towers.
When Should You Visit?:
Winters are cold in Tartu, so with an average high of -4C in January this isn’t a good time for sightseeing! By May temperatures have become far more pleasant, reaching an average high of 16.7C and the warmth peaks in July at 22C. Summers are the wetter time of year and August is actually the wettest month, so bear this in mind when visiting Tartu in the summer.